Archive for the 'travel' Category

Damn, Damn, Damn

metrocard bike

Subway fare at home in New York might go up from $2 to  $2.50. Monthly cards might go up from $81 to $104.

Boo-urns. You know things are rough in America when strippenkaarten could look good. I just bought my train discount card for here, (55 euros), and I’m still pissed that I’m only get 40% off for the year to travel across an country which, according to the CIA factbook, is “slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey.”

Well, maybe will still have it good back home. Let’s hope it lasts.

Night Train by James Brown

Refreshing!

I’m a little slow to post this, but here goes. I love Olafur Eliasson‘s Waterfalls that are all over New York. I first saw one while taking the B and thought it was a desperate attempt at oil drilling in New York. Mistaken identity aside, they’re absolutely delightful. They totally kick The Gates’ ass. And it’s around until October. That’s longer than the Gates measly two week run which had been in the works since 1979.

I’d like to get some pictures of it as I take the water taxi to Ikea. Which means that I’d viewing the work of a Danish- Icelandic artist while on my way to shop at a Swedish super-chain that is located in a former Dutch colony (Rood Hoek.) I sense a northern European summer!

That was waaaay too short–

That visit was way too short, but seriously productive. It’s strange to be back in New York, and Amherst will feel even weirder. I can’t help but have the strangest urge to move there.

At the baggage claim, I was standing next to little Dutch family of three looking for their bags on the trolley. They had a little girl, about the same age as my adorable little cousin who I met yesterday, and they were all speaking Dutch. This made me overwhelmingly homesick for the Netherlands. I think I need some recovery time, but I just don’t know when.

In the interim, I’ll just watch this video and wish I was there:

Niewe Oogen

I’m back in Amsterdam. I took this picture on my cell of the Amsterdam theater by 42nd before I left. I guess I just liked the red.

My luggage got stranded in Prague, but they should be back later. I forgot that everything is closed because it’s Sunday, so I did some useless running around.

I can’t wait to just walk where the characters I’m writing about “walk” and see where they’re supposed to live. I’ve been so bad about filling in their lives properly.

Meer morgen.

Stay Tuned

Tomorrow, I’m back at home in Brooklyn for a day, and then I run away to Amsterdam for thesis research from Saturday through Monday the 24th. I’m very excited. If I can find my trusty old European adaptor plug for my computer, I can write from there.

If I find Amsterdam condoms similar in awesomeness to the NYC ones, I’ll let you know. If they’re free, I’ll even pick a few up for you provided you ask kindly. Note: this will be the only item that I’m “smuggling” back into the States. All other orders will be ignored.

Back to the Dam

Sorry for leaving you for so long. Especially with Akon. Yijks.

I’ve been working on a lot of things, particularly with the novel (it’s turning itself into a novel) I’m working on about the Bijlmer. However, I’ve got some fun news: I’ll be in Amsterdam for spring break in a few weeks to do thesis research! I’m very excited about this development, because I’ve never been to the part of Amsterdam that I’m writing about. It’ll be very helpful to go back and get some questions answered.

Very, very inside joke.

Dearest iPod vending machine,

My life is brilliant.
My love is pure.
I saw an angel.
Of that I’m sure.
She smiled at me on the subway.
She was with another man.
But I won’t lose no sleep on that,
‘Cause I’ve got a plan.

You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful.
You’re beautiful, it’s true.
I saw your face in a crowded place,
And I don’t know what to do,
‘Cause I’ll never be with you.

Love,
Me

OK. Back to finals.

Hirsi Ali

Dutch Word of the Day
springen:
to jump
Sprong rond!

Jump around!

Oh, Ms. Hirsi Ali. You gotta settle down for a minute. Somalia to Amsterdam to America to Amsterdam again? I will say that I’m somewhat jealous of the amount of time she spent in Amsterdam; I’ve had a very harder time readjusting back to Amherst than I thought. But all this strange jumping around is undisclosed locations absurd.

The Dutch are threatening to cut off her bodyguard service, and she wants it back. Her life is in great danger unless she has that protection. It’s surprising that they cut her off like this. I wonder what’s next?

Breakfast Suite: Kashi Cereal

Dutch Word of the day
ontbijt: breakfast
Ontbijt is een prachtig ding.
Breakfast is a wonderful thing.

While I was in Amsterdam, I actually dreamed about this cereal. It wasn’t sold in Amsterdam so I had to replace it with Cruesli which doesn’t even compare. I don’t like Kashi Go Lean plain, I definitely prefer Crunch. It’s amazing. I think this will have to replace Cracktella and the Ferraro empire for me… at least for the time being.

There are still different food I miss, particularly Komijn Kaas, which is this amazing cheese with cumin seeds. It’s very expensive here, but bearable over there. I miss that a lot. I had an amazing toaster that would make grilled ham and cheese. Too bad I had to leave it there. I need to find the American equivalent and drag it to Amherst in the fall. In addition too a pancakes and booze party revival, there will be a grilled cheese soirée. Be there.

In order to find new addictive things to eat, I’ll need to stay out of my comfort zone and eat my way through strange and foreign lands. I’ve been trying to figure out where I should go next, international adventure wise. But I don’t want to change the name of the blog if I do. Brazilherst? Japamherst? Amhartica? That ain’t cute.

Because I already packed the dictionary away:

Things I Can’t Wait To Get Back To:

Familiar People
Starbucks (the REAL one, none of this “coffee shop” crap)
English speaking children
English Speaking Everything
Long Manhattan Walks
TV
Familiar Food
Good Wireless Internet
Consistent Warmth
My own room
The Container Store

Four Days

Dutch Word of the Day
beducht: apprehensive
Ik ben beetje beducht.
I am a little apprehensive.

I’m definately ready to go home now. But I’m not terribly pleased about those plans to blow up Kennedy, which is the airport I’m flying into on Friday. I doubt that anything would happen the instant I’m flying in, but it was just like a little reminder that I’m going back to the place where 9/11 happened. It really hasn’t felt quite the same since then. But everything will be OK.

Being in Amsterdam has made it difficult for me to tell how much people are worried about this. Sure, I’ve got the New York Times website I don’t get to see how many times news anchor’s mention it and use the “emphasis voice.” Whether or not people are actually concerned…it’s a tough call.

As for the lovely New York graffiti Delft in the picture, that is from Demian Repucci and Nicholas Lovegrove’s collection. I love it. You can find more of their stuff at www.lovegroverepucci.com.

Speaking of Hilversum:

Remember the freaky nightmare place I went for my field trip? Well, apparently it’s very eco friendly! Read about it this week’s Architecture section of the New York Times.

It was the trip that never ends


Dutch Word of the Day

reis: travel
Goede reis!
Have a good trip!

I had two, nonstop back to back field trips today for two different classes. The first as 7 AM to the Deltaworks in Zeeland, the second to Hilversum for an interactive TV studio “experience.” Yeah, I don’t know how I’m alive either. I got back home at 10 PM on the dot.

The Deltaworks are on the southern coast of the Netherlands near Belgium. They are constructed to keep the North Sea from flooding the southern part of the country through a system of dikes and dams. Dikes are dams on the land and are usually constructed from the land. They enclose whatever area they are meant to protect. Dams are manmade structures that are built in a body of water to keep the water back. We got a tour of the inside of a dam.

It was very nice except our tour guide was a royal jerk who tried to get into an agrument with me over the predominence of the English language instead of Dutch. (Um…wasn’t my idea, that’s for sure.) Then he gave a somewhat sloppy presentation of how things worked and then got annoying about President Bush. (Yes, we’ve heard it all before. Not much we can do at the moment, can we?) At first we thought he just hated Americans until our professor reassured us that the guy hated on him in Dutch, too. He just hates people, so being a tour guide was a wonderful career choice. Someone’s gonna talk to his supervisor.

After that we came back to Amsterdam and into another field trip to Hilversum, home of the Dutch television networks and such. There was an interactive television experience called Beeld and Geluid (Sight and Sound) which brings me to the weird picture above. The entire building was fascinating, but this really caught my eye. I took this from the ground floor. We didn’t go into this part, but I feel like I’ve had an elaborate nightmare in this place. The kind where someone’s chasing you and you can’t get out. Who would want to work in those red basement offices? Click for a large image, it will freak you out.

Anyway, the rest of the building was nice. It would’ve been nicer if I spoke more Dutch. None of the interactive activities were in English. I think that was the last of the field trips for now.

Special Guest Star, two fronts

Dutch Word of the Day
Groote-Brittannie: Great Britain
Ik heb gisteren Groote- Brittannie.
I was in Great Britain yesterday.

(Bear with me and the chronology)
But before I went to London, my friend Alex visited me for a few days. It was finally warm enough for a canal cruise and we even saw IJburg on a class field trip, a new series of manmade islands that you can find above Centraal Station to help ease the housing shortage. You can see one of the plans here. (Including a “breeding center?” Yeah, that woman’s English wasn’t on point.)

Insert Queensday.

Then I was in Islington (part of London) visiting Ashley at SOAS. I wasn’t there long enough to get the full feel of the city, but I liked what I saw. I went to The British Museum, Harrods, and saw a bit of the VA, but I feel like I have to come back. You can get a full flavor for Amsterdam in a shorter span of time because it’s much smaller, but London’s quite big. The Tube system’s very nice, though. But the train itself is very tiny, much smaller than the trains in New York. And the Body Shop is everywhere. I had some pounds remaining when I got to the airport so I went nuts and got so much Body Shop stuff.

Remembrance Day was today, and Liberation Day is tomorrow (both Holocaust related). It’s strange to be spending so much time in a country where the Holocaust happened. Even with the Anne Frank Huis and Homomonument down the street, it is still hard to fullly wrap one’s head around the horrible things that have happened here. On the one hand, I live in America where slavery was everywhere. But as a New Yorker, even as a black New Yorker, I’m not in a place that’s still as visibly scarred as other regions of the U.S.. I’m not used to being in a place where evidence of a terrible place is so close to the surface.

Today Albert Heijn closed early, there was something going on near the Westerkerk, and Dam Sqaure had a huge TV screen that I was too far from to really get a good look at. Aside from tomorrow’s Cold War Kids Concert, we’ll see how Liberation Day feels.

Other Obervation:


Dutch Word of the Day doden: kill Niet word gedood. Don’t get killed.

Don’t even try listening to your iPod while walking down the street. Between the trams and the bikes, you could totally get killed. I’ve only been able to use my iPod as a clock/alarm since I’ve been here. The 6 euro alarm clock is on 24 hour time, so it’s the only usual time I’m used to. There are “Apple Centres” here, and I’m not sure if they’re affiliated with the real Apple Store. They looke exactly the same, but the name throws me.


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